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to withhold the last month's rent in lieu of deposit?

(26 Posts)
Nicknamecoming Tue 20-Oct-09 19:34:27

Namechanged for this, as I may be identifiable in RL...

We've been renting the same place for over four years now, and while we rented through estate agents, our landlord is really anal about everything. When we moved in, we had an inventory that involved leftover tiles from the kitchen that's how picky he is. The place is in very good condition for having been lived in, and we intend to hire professional cleaners before moving out.

However, our upstairs neighbour who has lived there for over six years and rents from the same landlord has warned us that the last couple who lived here before us didn't get their deposit back, despite leaving the place spotless. Apparently landlord found loads of things like changing the locks, tiny scuffs etc and charged them for it, and withheld their deposit. Neighbour told us we should consider stopping our standing order in lieu of deposit and ask the agents to send us an invoice for any repairs instead of having our deposit confiscated. We really really don't trust the landlord at all! And as we are moving out of the country, we won't have any recourse to legal help which is likely to be very expensive...

I am not sure what we should do... AIBU to just give notice and let the agents know that we won't be paying the final month's rent but to keep the deposit?

mrseverton Tue 20-Oct-09 19:38:43

YANBU i've done this twice including to a landlord who withheld deposit from the previous tenants for using the toilet brush!

FourArms Tue 20-Oct-09 19:40:43

As a landlord myself, I'd have to say YABU. Are deposits not safer with this new scheme?

Ewe Tue 20-Oct-09 19:41:17

I don't think you can do that now with the deposit protection scheme can you?

AvrilH Tue 20-Oct-09 19:44:35

yanbu, your landlord has form

plonker probably doesn't even realise he is stealing from his tenants

JazzieJeff Tue 20-Oct-09 20:17:54

I think Ewe is right, that deposit protection scheme is pretty tight. Also, can your landlord not do an informal walk round before you leave so you've got a chance to fix any tiny scuffs etc on the cheap? I'd love to know how you get on because we're moving next spring good luck!

wahwah Tue 20-Oct-09 20:24:19

I would withold, it gives you something to negotiate with and you know he's going to try to stitch you up.

curiositykilled Tue 20-Oct-09 20:26:10

Not sure what I think you should do but changing the locks is not really a little thing. Changing the locks is normally a breach of tenancy agreement as it is effectively denying the landlord access to his property.

curiositykilled Tue 20-Oct-09 20:27:43

unless you mean the landlord charged them for locks he put on after they left?

pooexplosions Tue 20-Oct-09 20:51:32

Legally they can't deduct for tiny scuffs ans such anyway..normal wear and tear is specifically excluded from deductables on rentak deposit. Changin the locks could be charged for unless it was agreed for good reason.

UndomesticHousewife Tue 20-Oct-09 20:58:31

I think changing the locks is ok, as long as you give a key to the new lock to the landlord.

smokinaces Tue 20-Oct-09 22:01:19

When we left our rented property we didnt pay the rent for the last month (were on benefits, being rehoused by the council who then transferred our benefits to their property) but had a written agreement with the landlord that they could apply to the deposit protection scheme for the full repayment of the deposit.

They did this, we signed off the forms, thye were full reimbursed and that was that.

So, your landlord can keep your deposit if you choose not to pay the last months rent as he can apply to the DPS. I dont know how it works about applying for a part of the deposit for works undertaken after you leave. However, our landlord couldnt get a penny unless we signed in full agreement, and we could appeal.

HTHs

Nicknamecoming Tue 20-Oct-09 22:07:19

Sorry, took some time to get DD to bed. Curiosity, the landlord changed the locks after they left and took the money from the deposit, plus charged them for a huge number of other things. According to upstairs neighbour, they paid a deposit of £750, and didn't get any of it back... apparently he charged them £200 just to get the locks changed.

We are not in the deposit protection scheme, haven't been told anything about this either. I think the landlord has our deposit via agents, but I am pretty sure its not in a scheme.

I don't trust the landlord at all. The inventory is just one of the things... when our kitchen tap broke, he took a year to fix it, and according to the plumber was trying to sue the company that makes the taps! Plus, he only got it fixed when we protested a rent increase, and basically threatened to leave.

We've been ideal tenants so far, but this deposit thing really worries me, as we cannot afford to lose the money (minimal savings and DH made redundant, which is why we're moving abroad so I can take up a job I found).

smokinaces Tue 20-Oct-09 22:17:20

Nicknamecoming - if your deposit is not in the DPS you could be eligible for big compensation, so please find out. If you went through an estate agent for your tenancy agreement, they will know. It is not an option, it is a legal requirement AFAIK

I would say if you dont need a reference, and the place is in good nick (i.e. you dont think it will cost the deposit to render fit for next tenant) and are that worried, without the rent and he can keep the deposit. JMO

Nicknamecoming Tue 20-Oct-09 22:23:58

Smokin, I had no idea. I will call the agents and find out. We were just going to give them notice in a couple weeks, and then let them know that we would be withholding the rent, and landlord would keep deposit + rent increase, but I need to check this now, thank you...! If its illegal, I don't want to get into any trouble for withholding rent.

Plus, like I said, we're leaving the country and don't need a reference (moving into parents' basement suite for a few months)

The place is in excellent condition, and we are planning to get it professionally cleaned as an extra too!

InSync Tue 20-Oct-09 22:33:32

YANBU

I have done this after being ripped off a couple of times previously. This was a few years ago though before the protection scheme came in.

Nicknamecoming Tue 20-Oct-09 22:40:36

InSync, yes, I've just looked at the DPS and they say its only after April 2007 that deposits have to be legally paid into the scheme... we moved here in Dec 2005, so wouldn't apply to our deposit.

TBH, I don't want to do anything illegal, so is there any legal bar to me telling the agents that the landlord can keep his deposit in liu of rent? We always paid rent one month in advance as well, so we're all paid up for next month.

sunnydelight Wed 21-Oct-09 02:03:29

It is illegal to withhold rent and action for recevery can be taken against you, it may also affect your credit rating etc. Contractually you have agreed to pay rent for the length of the lease, a deposit is held against damage etc. and any rent left outstanding. Very few landlords would agree to effectively tell you a month before you move out that they are 100% confident you will leave everything in perfect condition which is what you are asking them to do by offering the deposit in lieu of rent. There is NO obvligation on the landlord's part to accept that.

There are lots of shitty landlords out there (I've been on the receiving end of a lot of grief from one recently so I do sympathise), but there are also lots of shitty tenants. There are also plenty of people who do the right thing, and if nobody was willing to rent out property the housing situation would be in even more crisis than it is!

MichKit Wed 21-Oct-09 10:50:45

Sunny, ist not just deopsit in lieu, we are happy for landlord to invoice us for any damage he think we may have caused. I just do not want him holding on to unreasonably to our deposit, and I would much rather have the safety of being able to contest an invoice rather than lose our deposit...

And how late do we have to be with our rent to have legal action taken against us? Isn't there a time a limit?

Thanks for the clarification though!

MichKit Wed 21-Oct-09 10:51:54

Decided to namechange back by the way, too much hassle otherwise. DH said if landlord was going to find out he will anyways.

dreamingofsun Wed 21-Oct-09 11:48:27

i would check the deposit scheme. Its now illegal for the landlord not to use it and they can be fined a failry heafty some. I think you could use this as a bargaining tool - ie if you don't give my deposit back i will report you.... and you will be fined. However, you might not be covered as its only been set up for a few years - suggest checking gov website. I'm a landlord and insisted we used this scheme to cover ourselves. See if he should have joined - suggest he does - and do it in writing - again for future bargaining tool - ie will report him for not joining. good luck. how do you know the tennant wasn't crap and you are getting a biased story? Plus take photos of state of property with a date stamp on

dreamingofsun Wed 21-Oct-09 13:08:27

to take something through the small claims court does not actually cost much money - or it didn't when i took a tennant to court a couple of years ago. i think its about 50-90 you pay to the court as a fee - would be on their website. i don't think either side is allowed to employ a lawyer

dreamingofsun Wed 21-Oct-09 14:22:22

apologies trying to do several things at once and didn't read your message about not being about to join deposit scheme. we actually take the last months deposit in lieu of rent - maybe we are being too kind! If he does withhold your deposit i would at least appear to start legal proceedings - ie put things in writing - as you are in the right he/the agents may back down. ask for copy of the inventory; take photos. don't let on you are going abroad. i guess your contract is with the agent, so it would be their role to sort this out and i think you would sue them - if htey think they might end up in court defending a doggy landlord this might influence them.

clam Wed 21-Oct-09 14:32:57

But to put the landlord into context, it won't have been him who put the fussy inventory into place, but the agents, and they're duty-bound to list absolutely everything, down to the last plastic teaspoon at the back of the drawer.
And how do you know that he didn't have the locks changed at the previous tenants' expense because they didn't return all the keys as required? If that had happened, he would have been perfectly justified in billing them for the job.
So, before you panic about him, he may not be a rip-off merchant.

NickNemo Wed 21-Oct-09 15:19:28

Apologies for the namechange again (accidentally deleted my account and now can't get my nickname back).

Clam, the agent made it a point of telling us that it was the landlord who did the inventory, as we were laughing at some of the ridiculous things he had put on it (example: the tiles, but also things like doorknob, and bell and completely irrelevant things like two spare bricks and a chimneypot!)

I don't know why he charged the previous tenants for changing the locks but since they were in a similar situation to us (chap is a doctor with MSF)... I can only imagine it was so that he could keep the deposit which he did.

The place was fine when we moved in, but we could see evidence of where he had tried to cut corners (uneven tiling etc)... but we have looked after the place quite well.

Its not just upstairs neighbour who warned us about his penny pinching, other neighbours who know him have said the same. Which is why we are worried he will make up some excuse to not return our deposit.

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